I was looking forward to reading Climatopolis, by author Matthew Kahn, as its title hinted at the eye-opening and daunting challenges facing society that I found previously while reading the superb book, Hot, Living Through the Next 50 Years on Earth by Mark Hertsgaard. Unfortunately, where Hot is a very personalized call to action, Climatopolis ultimately sinks under the weight of economic theorem overload. As an environmentalist and resident of this planet who is very concerned about topics such as global warming and climate change, I really wanted to like this book. Climatopolis seemed to just touch the surface of the problem and largely remained impersonal and detached in its description of the dramatic threats on the horizon.
The economic theory that certain cities and nations will benefit dramatically from climate change while others suffer tragically is a logical concept. But, just stating that in a myriad of different ways doesn’t build empathy amongst the readers, thus failing to lead them into a call for action. Instead, this tends to dull the pain, so to speak, by essentially implying; “Don’t worry, be happy. Let the macro-economics sort themselves out naturally and everything will be just fine.” This approach sounds akin to some sort of ‘ostrich economics’ to me – bury your head in the sand and hope for the best. Heaven knows climate change deniers already utilize that approach when it comes to facing reality.
Whereas the book Hot did a magnificent job of bringing global warming and climate change right into your personal space, Climatopolis stays far too impersonal to evoke the necessary action on the general public’s part. Without societal consensus, our politicians will continue to debate as we sink deeper and deeper into the abyss. If this is how economics and capitalism are supposed to work, no thank you.